Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Bridge Too Low

Coast Guard approval clears way for $1.3 billion Bayonne Bridge raising.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is raising the stakes - literally - in the ongoing chess game aimed at capturing post-Panama Canal expansion mega-ship business.

The Coast Guard approved plans on May 15 for a $1.3 billion project to elevate the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, which currently blocks access by some large ships to New York Harbor’s four big container terminals in New Jersey and on Staten Island, reported the Journal of Commerce and the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Coast Guard approval was the last needed for the work to begin.

The Port Authority will raise the bridge's roadway by 64 feet in order to accommodate the larger container ships that will be able to pass through the expanded Panama Canal by the second half of 2015. At the
same time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deepening the harbor to 50 feet, a project that should be completed by 2014. The two projects will enable the port to remain competitive with other East Coast ports, such as Norfolk and Baltimore, which already have 50-foot harbors.

On the west coast, ports such as Los Angeles are gearing up to remain competitive in the new ocean shipping environment, increasing the number of cranes and longshore gangs assigned to each vessel. Mega-ships capable of carrying 8,000 to 10,000 20-foot-equivalent container units are common on the West Coast, and will be more evident this year on the East Coast as carriers increase all-water services from Asia through the Suez Canal, which already accommodates the larger vessels. Long Beach is currently handling 13,000-TEU ships.

When the Panama Canal expansion is complete, carriers will expand their use of mega-ships on all-water services across the Pacific to the East Coast, opening up a free-for-all competition among North American ports. Just maybe, this can work to your advantage.

Kirk Shearer
800-989-0054 x103

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